Seven Tips for Helping the Dyslexic Reader

Did you know that one if five people have dyslexia? And that most of them don't receive services or get specific help for this frustrating reading disorder? I cringe every time I hear a parent or teacher say that the child just needs to "practice reading". Gulp. I used to say this myself when I was a classroom teacher. After all, it only makes sense. We've all heard about how Michael Jordan was told he'd never make it as a basketball player. He practiced endlessly and "made it".

Reading is similar to basketball.

You do need to practice a lot to make strides. But if you're practicing "wrong", it does no good and actually sets in bad habits, which only makes reading harder for the student. Dyslexic readers learn in a unique way. Traditional programs and methodologies won't work with them, and I promise, you can have these kids read night and day and unless you do something unique to meet their needs, you will only make minimal strides.

So, what do you do?

Following are some tips on teaching the dyslexic reader. 1. Break down the text. Use a colored ruler or even a recipe card for the child to use as he/she reads. The dyslexic reader gets overwhelmed by words and letters, so breaking down text helps reduce anxiety and gives their tired eyes a break. 2. Use a phonemic based reading program. Traditional reading programs don't work for this reader. 3. Take turns reading. Your child can read a word, sentence, or paragraph, and you read the next. 4. Use color, pictures, and movement as much as possible. This can be difficult, but most dyslexic students are right-brain dominant, and they respond to this! 5. Dyslexic readers don't have a strategy for reading. They guess at words and sometimes, they guess right. This only confuses them. You need to slow them down and have them sound out or decode words. Don't let them read by guessing, as this just sets in bad habits. 6. Sight words trip up the dyslexic reader. You can put a plastic report cover over print and have them use a colored marker to it to slide over print as they read out loud. This slows them down and helps them focus on these little words. 7. Drill and kill doesn't work with this learner! If you use flash cards, be sure they have color, interesting and meaningful stories, or involve movement.

Of course, these are just a few of tips that help the dyslexic reader, but by implementing them, you'll soon have a less-stressed and more confident reader.

I'm in the process of releasing two reading programs that we use at Harp that are geared toward the dyslexic reader. Hang tight.

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